1. Don’t Breathe a Word started out as an idea for a girl who fakes being homeless (she was going to be maybe a cheerleader by day, and spend time on the streets after school). It was sort of a ridiculous idea, but when a friend of mine who was a youth pastor was looking for donations (socks, toiletries, etc.) to take to homeless teens in Seattle, I suddenly had a picture of a girl who runs away for real.
2. Unlike Joy, I don’t have life-threatening asthma—but I talked to a lot of people who do to understand what her life would be like. Any errors are mine alone!
3. I actually went to the “For the Birds” zoo fundraiser party (and I do think flamingos are kind of mucky)—it was sort of a surprise when that party landed in my book.
4. While I was writing DBAW, a friend of mine told me about someone she knew who had gone for a year without buying any new clothes. “Maybe you should do that for your research,” she said. (Me??) But…I decided to try it. I wasn’t really a sock girl before, but I was amazed how important they became once they’d all suddenly sprung holes. My experience could never compare to that of my characters, but it gave me a new appreciation for them and their conditions.
5. I did see the Black Eyed Peas guy at a movie premiere, and he really did have a safety pin man-purse!
6. There are real-life crow researchers at the University of Washington who are dive-bombed, exactly as Asher says. They wrote a book, In the Company of Crows and Ravens, and I have a signed copy.
7. In my head, May’s voice sounds exactly like this electrician girl who rewired much of our attic. She was sassy and funny and rode in motorcycle races—no wonder she ended up a character!
8. I really hate having my blood drawn. The story Creed tells about the horse and the ocean was actually told to me by a doctor who was trying to keep me from freaking out. It worked—I was spellbound by the story and asked if I could steal it.
9. There is one character who was supposed to die, but then I couldn’t do it. So someone else died instead.
10. Where did Asher come from? Once upon a time I had a real Asher in my life, and I wrote about my experience in Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories.
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